Northeastern Section (45th Annual) and Southeastern Section (59th Annual) Joint Meeting (13-16 March 2010)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:05 PM


ASHMANKAS, Cristin, Natural Science and Mathematics, Lesley University, 29 Everett Street, Cambridge, MA 02138,

Undergraduates enter collegiate courses lacking much of the polish, skills, and discipline required in a professional setting. Many disciplines struggle to find mechanisms to aid students in the development of professional characteristics. Geology naturally lends itself as a branch of learning where many of these professional traits may be developed. Unlike many self-contained majors, geology has implications and connections to innumerable subjects from biology with altering eco-systems to social studies with the impacts of climate change to art with mineralology of sculpture and landscape photography. Building on the initial foundation of connections (a necessary skill for a elevated, inquisitive, life-long learning), students are able to develop a professional skill set through semester-long research projects. Undergraduates investigate a single geological site, both through in situ and laboratory investigations over a semester-long course. They complete a professional-level lab report/journal article for the end of the semester incorporating all of the data collected over the semester. By investigating every facet of their site, they develop a sense of possession to the site and produced data sets. Through rewrites and class discussions, they acquire a high level of pride in their work, striving to improve quality of data sets and writing. By the end of the course, many students have a strong concept of whether they wish to pursue the geological field, a STEM field, and or a research-based career. Regardless of chosen field, non-geology faculty report improved class performance from students who have completed such research-orientated courses. The implications of this preliminary study is the possible requirement of a long-term research-based geology course (or similar research course) be a general requirement for all undergraduates early in their educational careers, similar to the general requirement we universally enforce for english.